Last week, the New York Times broke the news that Eliza Dushku received a $9.5 million settlement from CBS over the harassment targeted at her while she filmed a role on the Michael Weatherly series Bull. Dushku did not comment in the original story, but now, in a piece for the Boston Globe, she describes her experience in her own words, claiming that Weatherly and writer-producer Glenn Gordon Caron have tried to construct a false narrative about what happened. “I declined to be interviewed for that piece because I wanted to honor the terms of my settlement with the network,” Dushku writes. “I was under the impression that Weatherly and Caron would also not respond per our settlement. Instead, all commented to the Times in what amounted to more deflection, denial, and spin.”
CBS pursued Dushku for a role in one of its shows, and had offered her the potential to become the co-lead on Bull, which, according to her description of the offer, would pivot to a “two-hander” like Moonlighting (Caron, who was brought on to write the series, created Moonlighting). Dushku writes that Weatherly started to harass her as soon as she came on the series, and that the language was far worse than the “Cary Grant”–like ad libbed lines he insisted he used. “Weatherly, who plays Dr. Bull, claimed I didn’t get his attempt at humor,” she writes. She continues:
For the record, I grew up in Boston with three older brothers and have generally been considered a tomboy. I made a name for myself playing a badass vampire slayer turned tough LA cheerleader; I have worked with numerous leading men, including Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio, even CBS’s own David Boreanaz. I can handle a locker room. I have been on Howard Stern and was hired by Kevin Smith for a film where I wore a black leather cat suit and played a member of an international diamond-thief-gang-ring. I do not want to hear that I have a “humor deficit” or can’t take a joke. I did not over-react. I took a job and, because I did not want to be harassed, I was fired.
She adds that Weatherly bragged about a close relationship with then-president of CBS Les Moonves, since fired for cause over claims of sexual harassment, referred to her as “legs,” “liked to boast about his sperm and vasectomy reversals,” and “as was caught on tape, after I flubbed a line, he shouted in my face, ‘I will take you over my knee and spank you like a little girl.’” Dushku says that his behavior also encouraged crew members to harass her. “What is hardest to share is the way he made me feel for 10 to 12 hours per day for weeks,” Dushku writes. “This was classic workplace harassment that became workplace bullying.”
Dushku says the harassment got worse once she brought up Weatherly’s behavior with him. He encouraged CBS brass to write her out of the show and, Dushku writes, circulated a “memo” telling crew members that no one should comment on her appearance. He then led a Champagne toast for her at the wrap party, where, as Dushku describes it, he humiliated her by repeatedly referring to her beauty sarcastically, purposefully violating that memo. “There are crew members on record as witnesses to corroborate what for me was one of the most cruel, most aggressive humiliations I have ever experienced,” she writes. “It was I who was mortified.”
Caron, she says, went along with Weatherly, while CBS also protected him and Weatherly during the settlement process, using a photo of Dushku from her Instagram “as if this suggested I deserved or was not offended by the sexual harassment I experienced.”
As part of her settlement, Dushku writes that she insisted that “CBS designate an individual trained in sexual harassment compliance to monitor Weatherly and the show in general” and that she be allowed to meet with Steven Spielberg, whose company Amblin co-produces Bull. “I have not yet had my meeting with Spielberg, but I cannot help but wonder where the legendary Hollywood director was throughout all of this,” she writes. Dushku is currently working on getting a college degree in Boston, and notes that she would not have spoken out except for the fact that CBS, Weatherly, and Caron have tried to distort the story.